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Flat Rock just south of Torrey Pines is the main obstacle unless the water is king-tide low.
Flat Rock just south of Torrey Pines is the main obstacle unless the water is king-tide low. Courtesy photo
Cities Community Community Encinitas News

Encinitas locals debut low-tide walk from Cardiff to La Jolla

ENCINITAS — Just after the new year, a group of friends met at Swami’s Beach for a unique opportunity that comes around just once a year.

For a few hours, one day a year, it is possible to walk along the beach from Cardiff all the way south to La Jolla without having to swim. And they call it the “King Tide Challenge.”

“King tide is the highest and lowest tide of the year, all in one day,” Chris Swanner, a Cardiff resident and retired firefighter who brought his friends together for the walk, told The Coast News.

The walk was just for friends and family this year but Swanner still did the work of having sweatshirts designed and even offering a gift card to Bump Coffee in Cardiff to the person able to collect the most trash from the beach during the walk.

During the "King Tide Challenge," a group smiles for a photo at Del Mar's Dog Beach. Pictured from left to right: Julie Thunder, Kimberly Alkhas, Lorraine Cherewick and Julie Parker.
During the “King Tide Challenge,” a group smiles for a photo at Del Mar’s Dog Beach. Pictured from left to right: Julie Thunder, Kimberly Alkhas, Lorraine Cherewick and Julie Parker. Courtesy photo

The unique low tide offered those who walked with rare views along the coast during the four-hour walk to La Jolla.

“It’s just the beauty that we have here. When I tell people you can walk from Swami’s to La Jolla, they just can’t believe it,” Swanner said. “I did it yesterday too, it’s an unbelievable view.”

Even though more of Swanner’s friends made it out to Swami’s for the walk, he still had more shirts leftover and he says anyone who would like one can purchase one from Bump Coffee while the supply lasts for $20.

Picking up trash along the beach is something Swanner said he’s one for some time and it was an easy decision to include that element in the walk.

Jim Riley, center, and his two sons Michael, right, and Topher, both of whom ran the distance from Cardiff to La Jolla for the inaugural "King Tide Challenge."
Jim Riley, center, and his two sons Michael, right, and Topher, both of whom ran the distance from Cardiff to La Jolla for the inaugural “King Tide Challenge.” Courtesy photo

“I walk on the beach all the time and I would pick up trash but there was so much I couldn’t go anywhere carrying all of it, so at some point, I just said OK I’ll just pick up bottle caps,” Swanner said. “Everyone will have a gallon bag with them today so they can pick up more than bottle caps.”

Swanner first began to think of plans for the King Tide Challenge in January of 2021.

Swanner was able to get more of his friends to come out than he even anticipated and he hopes that will be a good sign for when he plans to organize a bigger and more official event next year.

“Next year it will be about raising money for cancer,” Swanner, who is a melanoma survivor, said. “It will be for skin cancer awareness, it will be for Rancho Coastal Humane Society and the Rob Machado Foundation. Once we get those people involved with the advertising and stuff, it will be huge.”

Cardiff resident Chris Swanner addresses participants and friends before the inaugural "King Tide Challenge."
Cardiff resident Chris Swanner addresses participants and friends before the inaugural “King Tide Challenge.” Courtesy photo

Swanner says he already has received interest from those organizations in participating in the official event next year.

This year’s walk with friends should act as a recon mission of sorts for what Swanner hopes will be a long-standing event in North County.

“If we can get all the permits and everything we hope it can be like The Kook Run or The Surfing Madonna Beach Run,” Swanner said.

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